Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Forward thinking

Good news for us and - in the light of Wayne Rooney's latest dose of foot-knack - England: Michael Owen came through 60 minutes of last night's friendly against Newcastle Blue Star unscathed. Owen claims he could probably have lined up against Bolton, but was understandably (and rightly) cautious of aggravating the thigh injury unnecessarily. He's now declared himself fit for Villa's visit to St James' on Saturday, but given the way the front trio performed at the Reebok, I very much doubt he'll find himself thrust straight back into first team action.

While Owen was denied against Blue Star by a couple of goal-line clearances, Shola Ameobi - in many ways the forgotten man among our striking options - scored what proved to be the only two goals of the game. Other noteable presences on the pitch were wantaway midfielder Kieron Dyer and Brazilian centre-back Cacapa, making his first appearance in black and white in relatively untesting circumstances. Considering Shay Given's injury and the fact that Tim Krul remains on loan at Falkirk, Fat Sam will have been relieved that Fraser Forster avoided being struck down by injury too.

With Owen returning to fitness and Ameobi in reasonable form, Allardyce has decided the time was right to let Andy Carroll leave on loan to get some experience. Cardiff and Hull, who both suffered disappointing home defeats in their opening fixtures, were keen, but Preston won the race - thanks in part to Allardyce himself putting in a good word for the Lancastrians. Carroll has shown a measure of promise to date, so hopefully he might return to the club with some games and goals behind him, ready to challenge for the first team.

A less welcome departure would be that of Nobby Solano, but it seems increasingly likely. Having originally been mooted as part of West Ham's resurrected deal for Dyer, it now looks as though Nobby could be heading off down to the Big Smoke alone to team up with former colleagues Craig Bellamy and Lee Bowyer. In fairness to Solano, he appears reluctant to leave, admitting "Leaving Newcastle will be hard because I feel they are on the verge of something big here" - but, as Dyer claims, Nobby has said his sole motivation for swapping Tyneside for East London is to be with his family, who have recently moved. But if this was on the cards, it begs the question why we gave him a new one year contract in the summer... I hope he stays - and that Fat Sam puts him into the side at right-back - but only if his heart's truly going to be in it.


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